It isn’t likely something you think about very much, but your business phone system has, or should have, a lot in common with Salesforce.com. Let’s consider a few things they share.
Both represent a record of interactions with customers and prospects – While in large part, interactions with customers and prospects are manually entered into Salesforce.com by the person who performed the activity, your phone system automatically creates (or should create) a record of every phone call. The record includes who called whom, when the call occurred and how long it lasted. If your phone system is integrated with Salesforce.com, you can see these records alongside of the other actives entered by your team and have a unified vision of activity with each contact.
Both support work from anywhere – According to Gartner, Salesforce.com has the highest market share of any CRM in the world. That’s in large part because its cloud-based technology allows sales representatives and managers alike to access key information and work intelligently from anywhere on the planet. Your phone system also supports mobile work (or it should) by allowing personal mobile devices to be used with the business phone number and making your traveling reps as available as anyone else with a four digit dial. Even better if your phone system is integrated with Salesforce.com and records of calls made from mobile devices become part of the contact record just like any other.
Both measure employee productivity - Smart managers have learned how to (and how not to) use Salesforce.com as a measure of employee productivity. Sales reps can be measured by the number and/or size of opportunities in the pipeline and the activities associated with those accounts. Service agents can be measured by case resolution and time to close. The phone system can (or should) be used in a similar way. Beyond simply counting the number of calls made or received, managers can understand the responsiveness of employees. For example, are your remote employees as likely to answer the phone live as those in the office doing similar work? How long does it take, on average, for the support team to pick up the phone? Are calls abandoned before a live person is ever reached? This data can help define best practices and identify employees who need additional coaching. When the phone system is integrated with Salesforce.com productivity becomes even easier to understand. Are calls being made to people who are contacts in Salesforce.com or not? Inquiring managers want to know.
Both improve customer service – As a customer, I love dealing with companies that have a great CRM in place. Why do I care? Because everyone I talk to has easy access to information about my account and about my recent calls with the company. I can tell if the CRM is properly used because I don’t have to repeat myself each time I interact with someone. Your phone system also enables great customer service (or it should) by providing a pleasant, consistent calling experience. It lets callers reach an employee with their business phone number, wherever they are. It sends emails with transcriptions of voicemail messages so that employees can respond quickly to questions and requests. When tied with Salesforce.com, it lets agents know who is calling and why before they pick up the phone. Really, the phone system and Salesforce.com can both be considered agents of customer loyalty.
Both drive revenue – Salesforce.com does a lot of stuff, but at its heart it is a tool to help sales representatives and managers deliver business results. It gives management a view into the activities of representatives so that they can define best practices and make accurate sales forecasts. It gives marketers a way to access lead flow and most importantly, gives individual representatives a way to organize and control their book of business. The phone system is also (or should be) a powerful revenue generating weapon. After all, despite the proliferation of other ways to communicate, the most important conversations, the ones that build relationships and close deals, still happen mostly over the phone.
So, if you’ve read this and your phone system falls more into the “should” category than the “does” category, it might be time to consider investing in something new. If you’re part way there, but not integrated with Salesforce.com, look into it. Because, the phone system is (or should be) as important to the health of your business as Salesforce.com.